Teaching the Mean

By: Lara Winburn

I have a three-year-old little girl. She is chatty, funny, a little mischievous, and sassy. Sassy… I can handle, you know apple/tree, whatcha gonna do? But right now there is one thing she is not; she is not mean and hopefully never will be. Mean girls suck. Sorry Momma, I know you hate that word, but it is true.

Mean girlsI am sure that somewhere along the way I have been a mean girl, but hopefully not on a regular basis since I wore a cheerleading uniform, which was a while ago. I have outgrown that uniform (sadly) and that behavior (thankfully). There are plenty of unflattering ways to describe me- stubborn, sassy, scattered, loud and opinionated. I will take those, but I would hope mean girl is not on that list.

Growing up, I never enjoyed making declarations like “we are not friends with Suzy this week” or “YOU CAN come over to play and YOU CANNOT.” Plus, my mom was having none of that.

But as an adult and now a mother, I have noticed something.  Sometimes, I’m afraid we are teaching the mean.

I am not starting rumors about moms at the park, and you are probably not disinviting ladies to your slumber party. BUT, I am sure there has been the occasional eye roll or a catty cell phone comment made in front of my little girl. And there is three-year-old Sponge Babe Sassy Pants in the back seat listening to and absorbing EVERY WORD. She already reads expressions and tone. Am I teaching the mean? Maybe more mindful mommy talk is in order.

When I taught second grade, I witnessed mean girl behavior already developing in these seven and eight year old angels. The funny thing was after spending a little time with their moms, you could see the mean girl in them too. Not evil, bad people, not even bad moms – they were just spending a lot of time judging or ostracizing others or, worse yet, judging themselves. Inadvertently, teaching the mean.

My mommy style is FAR FROM PERFECT but I will tirelessly try not to teach the mean. Instead, I think I will try to teach a little more sweetness, being kinder to others and myself. Remember:

“Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter.” - Cady, Lindsay Lohan’s character in “Mean Girls”

PS Who thought Lindsay Lohan could offer such a nugget of wisdom?

PSS If anyone reading this thinks I’ve been a mean girl to them, my sincerest apologies.  (sometimes stubborn, sassy, scattered, loud and opinionated comes out a little mean).

Live, Laugh, Love…An Ode to Women

By: Shannon Shull

I celebrate the women of the world. To be a woman is no easy task. Don’t think it ever has been. It’s a very unique and special thing to live life as a woman.

I had the opportunity to present and share this video at a recent, very special Women’s Society event that raised money for the wonderful organization, Sistercare.  I thought it only fitting to share it with the Every Woman Blog readers.

So, please take a few minutes out of your busy, overwhelmed lives to watch and enjoy this video, which was edited together thanks to the help of my amazing sister, Chelsea.  My hope is that after you watch it, you will feel inspired and empowered. Here’s to reaching for happiness… here’s to laughing, loving and living life to the fullest! Smiles to you all! :-)

Walk It Out

By: Chaunte McClure

Most of us have those days when there is too much on our minds, too much on our plates, too many places to go, too many deadlines to meet and too little time to accomplish all Parkwe’d like to in a day. This hodgepodge of emotionally stimulating ingredients is usually a recipe for STRESS.

That’s the road I’ve been traveling the past few weeks. Today I decided to pull over, as I do from time to time, and walk it out. The stress, that is. Sometimes I take a stroll through my neighborhood, occasionally I make it to a park, but lately I’ve been enjoying a leisurely walk around the State House. The paths around the well-manicured lawn of our state’s capitol lead me to a place of serenity – a place where I can unwind, refresh and regroup. Even though my stay is only for about 10 minutes, it’s still worth it.

There is something about the fresh air, especially after today’s April shower, that helps take my mind off the things I was doing or have to do. Sometimes I may find a bench, sit a while and gaze at the beautiful blossoms or watch the squirrels scurry about.

I could experience less stress if I learn to say no more often. I was doing well at this, and I’m not sure how I got off track. As if having a full-time job and attending seminary part-time Parkisn’t enough for me to handle, I tend take on other tasks when I’m asked.

Sound familiar? Remember, it’s okay to say no. Kindly thank them for asking and explain that you just don’t have the time to devote to any additional tasks. Most days I come home, rest for about an hour and do homework until I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. Yes, I’ve become used to burning the midnight oil, but if I’m not careful, my marriage will burn out, my sanity will burn out. It’s important to take time for yourself and your family. It’s a balancing act that I find myself juggling every semester, but I refuse to lose control.

I wish I did a better job of controlling my FOMO (fear of missing out). I love social media, and often when I’m working on an assignment I find myself drifting from a Word document to an open browser window which points to Facebook.com. SMH! I promise you there is nothing about pastoral care or church history on Facebook, but for some reason I just have to see what’s going on. Use your time wisely and remain focused on the task you are working on.  (Do you hear that Chaunte?) Hmmm… should this be called preaching to the preacher or preaching to the choir?

Finally, when possible, reward yourself when you complete a task. This helps motivate me, especially if it means I get to go to Target, go outside before the sun sets, spend time with my husband or just relax and not do anything.  Ok, I’ve got to go work on my next assignment and I promise I won’t access Facebook. By the way, share what you do to de-stress. I look forward to reading your comments.

My Job

By: Brady Evans

I am not sure I’ve ever talked about my job here on the Every Woman Blog.  There’s a few reasons for that.

First – I think Americans over-identify with our careers.  One of a stranger’s first questions is always, “So, what do you do?”  It is understandable.  We’re asked from a very young age what we want to be when we grow up. (How often is that answer actually accurate?  I wanted to be either a swimming instructor or a barber – I am neither.)  We spend thousands of dollars these days on higher education, and besides the money,  we spend years in school under the threat of “you’ll need an education to get a job!”

Flo & Brady

Second – I love my job.  I am thankful that I enjoy it on a daily basis.  My days pass quickly and are filled with laughs.  But I love coming home more than I love going to work.  I love my sweet dog Flo, my delightful horses, my ever-mischievous-cat, and those other two canines that I allow to share Flo’s space (don’t hate me – I chose favorites!).  I love my farm chores and I love cooking and writing.  I love listening to Cat Stevens and Jackson Browne in the evening and watching the nightly news.

The third reason why I suppose I don’t share too much about my job is that everyone is an expert at my job.  Everyone has an opinion of my job.  Everyone believes he has the right to evaluate me at my job – even though no one is actually ever there, watching.  I guess having a taxpayer-funded job brings those sorts of criticisms and perhaps justifiably so. Still, it is hard having this job and having to sit back and smile while you read social media articles full of opinions with no evidence and clearly little background knowledge regarding the subject at hand.

Paper

Have you figured out what I am?  I am your kid’s public school teacher.  And, as someone once put it, everyone thinks he is an expert on teaching because he’s been a student before.  And nearly everyone has an opinion on my job because my salary, meager as it may be, is funded by tax payer monies.  And thus, my job and my effectiveness at it is constantly under the lens.

I’m not here to fight about Common Core State Standards because it is hard to fight with people who are uninformed about the topic at hand.  I won’t fight with my doctor about the pain medication he recommends for an ankle sprain; I’ll just trust that he’s the informed one and is motivated to do his best work to make me feel better.

And I’m not going to fight about whether or not grammar or cursive should be taught or whether it is “important.”  After all, importance is a relative term.  Wasn’t Home Economics important to students growing up in the 50s?  Can we all agree now that knowing how to prepare a casserole or properly iron a collared shirt is less important nowadays?

But what I’d like you, the ones who criticize your child’s teacher and every move she makes, the ones who post your beefs on Facebook regarding every assignment she sends home and every grade that she enters into the grade book, to know is that we love your kids.  We want your kids to be successful.  We do our best to do the most for your kids every day.  And, most importantly, we are all on the same team.

Still Plotting

By: Sherree Thompson

Here it is April and I’m still plotting my “spring” garden. Now that the weather is co-operating, my mind is wheeling with ideas and plans.

 I am hoping to apply what I learned from last year’s summer garden, but apparently this past summer was out-of-the-normal for gardens. This is just the thing that would come my way. I always seem to try a first when everything is out-of-whack. Technically I think it might be a good thing. I mean, the more hurdles that are tossed my way just forces me to learn even more.

Last year, I learned not to place some plants near others or they will cross pollinate. For example: don’t plant cucumbers by zucchini.You will get these funny, gourd-looking cucumbers.

Cross Pollinated Cucumber

Cross Pollinated Cucumber

Another tips is to make sure to net your berries or they will be swallowed by the birds.

I also opted not to make raised beds, and have decided I will skip that again this year.

Beautiful Raised beds a River Banks Zoo

Beautiful Raised beds a River Banks Zoo

Since we have fresh ground to work with, we have a few big projects ahead of us. One being the beds. I must work on that shortly or I might miss my window for planting. I’m such a procrastinator about the things that I think won’t take that long.

I feel like I already have a jump on the planning though. I have my seed source ordered, my garden mapped (mostly) and a watering system plotted.

I actually think I might pull out a calender and write out my plan. Go me! That is definitely a first. Here’s to getting organized.

Purse Food!

By: Sydney Yarbrough

In my efforts to get ready for beach weather, I recently started following a new nutrition plan. The basics of the plan are to eliminate processed food and refined sugar and to eat the right foods at the right time. According to the plan, healthy carbs and fruits should be eaten in the morning, while starches should be eliminated after 3 p.m. I am a student and I work full-time, so following any type of nutrition plan is very much a challenge for me.

This had led me to what I like to call “Purse Food.” Food that I can grab and go, or keep in my car, and I am guaranteed to have something belly-friendly at hand! Here are some of my favorite snacks to keep handy:

  1. Protein Bars- These are tricky. You need to make sure they’re not full of sugar. I prefer gluten-free, sugar-free ThinkThin bars or Cliff bars. There are also tons of recipes for no-bake protein snacks that you can make on Sunday nights to last you the entire week!
  2. smoothieHomemade Smoothies- Anything you can make yourself with fresh produce is always better. I like to add coffee to smoothies I drink in the morning. Keep mason jars or a plastic tumbler cup on hand and make your smoothie the night before if you know you’re going to be in a rush in the morning.
  3. Alternative Trail Mix- Blueberries and walnuts make a great snack. Lots of pre-packaged trail mixes are full of sugar and processed foods. Avoid this and maintain portion control by packing it yourself!
  4. Purse Friendly Beverages- My favorite is coconut water! It’s a great, natural way to stay hydrated during the day and comes in lots of flavors! I also like sparkling water and  making my own flavored waters. Here’s a quick tip: Get a reusable water bottle and add mint and cucumber for a delicious drink!

I hope these tips help for managing your appetite and getting beach-ready for the summer!

Tales from Texas, Part 1

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

TexasI guess it was around September that my little sister told me that her husband was looking around for a new company.  She was not excited about the fact that the top location choices were Texas and Colorado, since she now has a little one and has all our family within a couple hours drive of each other.  But, it was a great opportunity and a sweet deal, so in the midst of the holidays, they moved to Houston.  Her husband went before Thanksgiving, while Katherine stayed behind to deal with getting their house in Asheville sold and closed.  After that was completed, she loaded up what was left in her SUV along with the baby, the dog and my parents.  They accompanied her out there to make sure she got there ok and to help with the toddler.

While in Texas, mom and dad happened into a Kroger one day to get groceries to take back to Katherine’s new house.  They couldn’t help but notice that there was a lady behind the deli counter making fresh tortillas.  But, wait, there’s more…she was also making tamales!  Ever since they returned to South Carolina from this journey, I’ve heard about these tamales non-stop.  Other than chile rellenos, tamales are probably our favorite Mexican specialty.  Mom and dad were blown away by how great these “grocery store” tamales were. I’ve been jealous hearing about them ever since.

Well, since the kids had a half day and the next day off from school, we scheduled a long weekend for me and my daughter to fly out with mom and dad for a visit.  (This time of year is crazy for us…it starts with my niece’s birthday [3 this year], next day is mom and dad’s anniversary, March 31 is dad’s birthday, next day is my sister’s birthday [not an April Fool’s joke, it’s legit], then my baby’s birthday on the 8th.  And don’t forget that Easter typically falls somewhere in the midst of all this celebration. So, off to Houston we flew to celebrate all our family festivities and to check on my sister and her new town.

We had several great culinary adventures on this trip, about which I will write subsequent posts.  But today, we’re talking about tamales.  After a visit to the Johnson Space Center (NASA), we went to a Mexican restaurant called Edouardo’s.  Both my parents and I ordered the tamales.  We were served two pork tamales with charro beans. The tamales Tamaleswere certainly better than any I’ve had around here.  The masa was nice and tender and moist. The pork was well seasoned and moist and was that kind of “shreddy” meat that I like. The masa was a bit thick, but since it wasn’t dry, it was ok with me.

However, the next day, mom and dad made a grocery run before my niece’s party started and guess what they came home with?  A 10-pack of Kroger tamales.  I know it sounds improbable, but those little ladies at the Kroger deli have got it goin’ on!  These were some of the best I’ve ever had.  Now I understand why mom and dad have been talking about them for the last 3 months.  Unfortunately, once the package was opened, none of the tamales stuck around long enough for any photo shoots, but I did get one of the (almost as good) ones from the restaurant!

ElizabethElizabeth writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)”.  Follow the page on Facebook. All the cool kids do.